Pomp and changing circumstances
Published: June 7, 2011
It’s that “Pomp and Circumstance” time of year. The recurrent ritual of caps, gowns and tassels touches our household as our daughter, Jessie, graduates from high school tomorrow.
In a class assignment, she wrote about moving around as a military child and how it shaped her life and personality. I asked Jessie to share some of those words here:
No one in Los Angeles wanted to be friends with the pale, frizzy-haired short girl. So for the longest time I held my place well as a “nobody.” After moving a few times and finding who I was, I discovered that being “nobody” at one school doesn’t mean you are nobody at all. I have moved nine times in my life so far, and I plan to make it a round ten this summer, as I venture out into the real world.
I was born in Guam, a freckle on the wide face of the South Pacific Ocean. We flew to Luke AFB in Arizona, about a year afterwards. Four years and a baby brother later, I moved to Yokota AB in Japan – still among my favorite places to live.
After first grade, our family returned to the States. We lived in Alabama for a year. Moody AFB in Georgia was next on the list.
There we had porch swings, tree houses, a yard big enough for makeshift baseball fields, blackberry bushes, a ditch for scooping up minnows, woods and ponds to explore.
Leaving Georgia was hard, especially to move to the hot spot of the U.S. Life in Los Angeles was everything people had said it was: plastic, beautiful, and surreal.
The ocean view was nice, but it didn’t make up for the friendlessness. I cared so much what people thought of me that I couldn’t let my guard down and be who God made me.
Germany was no present to me either when we moved there just before my 13th birthday in the scorching summer of 2006. Then I met others from all over and found new perspectives. I met people who helped to shape me into the girl I am today and to discover that there is no such thing as a “nobody.”
I enjoy moving around and seeing new sights. It has opened my eyes to all the somebodies and their lifestyles and how they each learn, grow, dress, and express themselves differently. The world is full of beautiful cultures and I can’t wait to see more, even in my own country.
There is no way for me to choose one of the places that I’ve lived or seen to be my definite home. I’ve heard it said that “Home is where the heart is” and “Home is where the military sends you.” I agree with both. Home for me is wherever I am at the moment or wherever my family is.
If I had to choose one place where I have grown the most and taken as part of my personality, I would chose Germany at the moment. Here I have met my best friends and learned my most important life lessons – maybe because of my amazing surroundings or simply as part of my teenage growing years. Leaving Germany this summer will be one of the hardest moves, but one of the most important moves as well.
This fall I’ll return to California – this time knowing that I am somebody – to study graphic design at Azusa Pacific University. I have gone from being a “nobody” to knowing who I am and what I want to do with my life.
Five years ago, if asked about my future, I might have made up some rigmarole about a conventional field of study. Now I don’t even have to think before I ramble on about what I want to do.
Art is my forte. I’ve always been an artist, whether through painting, drawing, fashion or music. Art to me is seeing the potential in something and making it real. Maybe that includes the potential in myself.
Who knew becoming “somebody” could be so much fun?
Jessie Barnes is a member of the Class of 2011 at Patch High School, USAG Stuttgart Germany. She has been a military kid and a sensational somebody for nearly 18 years, according to very reliable sources.